Richmond County conservation group named chapter of the year

By: By Christine S. Carroll - Staff Writer

The LandTrust for Central North Carolina has recognized its fledgling Richmond County unit as chapter of the year for its attempts to promote conservation awareness.

At less than a year old, the chapter represents a new effort by the 10-county trust to take conservation local. Richmond County has four properties comprising hundreds of acres protected by “conservation easements” negotiated by the trust, voluntary agreements under which landowners promise they will limit or prevent certain kinds of development on their land.

When “a little project we’ve got going” comes to fruition, Richmond County Trust member Sarah Ferguson said Tuesday, the acreage will be even higher. Ferguson, who accepted the award for the local chapter this month, refused to elaborate but said the project involved land acquisition.

“Richmond County has been the most active” of 10 local organizations in the 10-county area the LandTrust oversees, said founder Mikey Nye Fulks. It has advertised itself at the farmers’ market in Rockingham and organized a paddling and hiking trip down Hitchcock Creek to try to attract members.

But membership “is where we’re lacking,” Nye Fulks said — not in zeal. The countywide group has only seven to 10 members paying dues because “the idea of getting county chapters started is a really new idea.”

“That’s one of our biggest goals, is helping build that,” she said. Because the trust is nonprofit, it finances itself and its works through membership fees, grants and donations.

The LandTrust for Central North Carolina operates in Anson, Cabarrus, Davidson, Davie, Iredell, Montgomery, Randolph, Richmond, Rowan and Stanly counties, hoping to offer landowners reasons to preserve their land for future generations to enjoy. It began in 1995 and claims it stands “poised to protect” thousands of acres of private lands.

Richmond County conservation easements are:

• the Baldwin Forestland, a 605-acre conservation easement that preserves stream frontage along Mountain Creek, significant because of the high quality of the water and aquatic species found there.

• the Cooper Forestland, a 159-acre conservation easement that protects forestland along scenic Bethany Road.

• the Terry Sharpe property, 114 acres west of Ellerbe, a diverse wildlife and plant habitat.

• the Bill Webb farm, 115 acres that transition between the Uwharries’ granite outcrops and rock-bedded streams, into flatlands and sandhills.

By Christine S. Carroll

Staff Writer

Reach Christine S. Carroll at 910-817-2673 or [email protected]

Reach Christine S. Carroll at 910-817-2673 or [email protected]